Voices from the Other Side

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Keith Bolender, Pluto, £12.99

In Latin America, Luis Posada Carriles is a household name. Among other attacks, he organised the bombing of an Air Cubana plane which killed the young Cuban fencing team and a group of fishermen. In all, 77 people died that day in October 1976. By any standards, Carriles is a terrorist, yet he and the authors of several other murderous assaults on Cuba live comfortably under the protection of the US government.

Keith Bolender's book speaks to the victims of those assaults. For over 50 years, governments in Washington of both main parties have pursued a relentless campaign against the Cuban Revolution. In his introduction Noam Chomsky sees the cause of the campaign in a kind of hysteria. Perhaps more importantly, it is the example of a small country that successfully challenged imperialism that stings the US establishment most deeply.

But there is also a problem: is the siege sufficient explanation for the restrictions imposed by the Cuban state over these years? The defence of freedom - to criticise, to organise - after all is a central socialist principle; if it is compromised in protecting the advances the movement has made beyond the emergency moment, it will become a victory for the other side - whose concept of liberty does not extend to those who challenge their right to control the lives of millions in their own interest.